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Austin Rivers fires back after hearing criticism post-locker room fiasco

Throughout his two-plus years with the L.A. Clippers, Austin Rivers has heard every type of criticism come his way. Monday night’s post-game locker room fiasco was no exception, as critics and players all pointed at him as the instigator of the madhouse that Staples Center became after his team took down the Houston Rockets.

Rivers has been hearing it from dudes in the NBA ever since coming into the league and five years deep in NBA experience has made it no different.

“People can say whatever they want about me and my father [coach Doc Rivers],” the shooting guard told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne Wednesday night. “I get it. I can even put my ego aside and understand why people don’t like the situation. When I was growing up and I’d see the coach’s son, you’d be like, ‘He sucks. He’s only on the team because of his dad.’ So I get it.”

Yet he’s able to recognize that outside perspective, adding some of his own.

“People are like, ‘Well, his dad gave him his chance.’ Is that true or not? I don’t know. It might be,” Rivers said. “[But] could it be that my pops knew how good I could be because he’s my pops?

“He told me on the phone [when the Clippers traded for him in 2015], ‘If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just cut ways at the end of the year, keep it clean, and you can go on and try to figure it out.”

Yet his critics have nailed one thing on the head — the huge chip on the shoulder he’s played with since entering the league.

“I know what the narrative is on me,” Rivers said. “It’s because I come from money and I have a swagger and confidence about me.”

“[But] if I didn’t have this confidence or swagger in myself, I wouldn’t be built to handle the negativity that I’ve gotten. I would’ve already broken down years ago because I’ve gotten this since high school. I’ve turned it into a fuel and it’s helped me. I go into each away arena and it’s rough, because of the s*** I hear. This chip on my shoulder, this swagger and confidence, it helps me. If I didn’t have it, I would not be in the NBA.”

Rivers was the latest scapegoat of the infamous Rockets-Clippers tunnel fiasco, called an “instigator” of the situation after findings from the league’s two-day investigation trickled down to the local media. But for him, things are more than what meets the eye.

“I understand the media wants juicy, they want views, and the easiest target, let’s poke at Austin Rivers and his dad. Every time I turn on the TV and it’s the Clippers, my name pops up. [But] man, judge me off my performance or my character after knowing me or watching me play.”